Monkey out of water

First, I want to remind you about my upcoming men’s group.  It’s limited to seven men, and I have two spots left.  If you want more specific information, check out my recent blog: “Men at work, men without hats, and men’s counseling group.”  It’s on the homepage of my website:


If my last post, “29 monkeys in the pool”, I talked about the meditative benefits swimming can bring. Unfortunately, things stopped being so simple the other day and I my calm was challenged. Here’s my follow up:

As I slipped on my suit and headed for the pool, I noticed it was crowded. All but one of lanes was filled with two people, generously and calmly sharing the space. This is common practice. Fortunately, one of the lanes had only one man in it. When he finished his lap, I asked him if could share with him, and he told me “no” and mumbled something about taking up most of the lane. Off he went. I took a seat right next to the pool, pretty much hovering over his lane.

After swimming a couple of laps, he surfaced and told me that he sometimes waits if none of the lanes is open. “Ok” I said. I was annoyed and sat still.

A couple of laps later, he surfaced and told me that it’s a holiday. This didn’t make much sense, but I inferred he’d assumed I had extra time on my hands and waiting wouldn’t be a big deal. I got more annoyed but didn’t say anything.

A couple of laps later, he surfaced and told me that recently he’d gone to a different gym in our health club system and noticed that there were a couple of open lanes. I got pissed and started to say something that was pretty adversarial. Fortunately, I stopped myself midsentence, as two dudes brawling at the local family gym wasn’t at the top of my list of preferred holiday activates. He went back to swimming.

After a couple of laps of butterfly, he surfaced and told me again about how I could swim at the other gym. I was angry and disgusted and said with a sense of self-righteous satisfaction, “I have epilepsy and my doctor took away my driver’s license. This is the only gym I can get to.” He was silent, and I hoped he felt like a completely selfish idiot. He turned, swam a few more laps of butterfly, got out, and announced the lane was “all mine.”

When I hopped in and started swimming my laps, I was not calm. My mind raced. The monkeys went crazy in my mind. I was angry and beside myself at the man’s arrogant and selfish behavior. It wasn’t like I was mad enough to see red through my goggles, but there was nothing meditative about it.

When I got out a few minutes later, I plopped down on a chair next to the pool, and he was in a spa directly behind me. As tempted as I was to turn and jump down his throat, I stayed seated and thought. I realized that my anger was out of proportion to what had happened. I also realized that it wouldn’t do me any good to say something crappy. So, I figured out something I could say that was kind and understanding, without being sarcastic or passive-aggressive (both of which are strengths of mine). If he said anything kind or apologetic, I planned to tell him it was ok and say something about how I noticed that it would have been difficult to share a lane when he was swimming the butterfly.

He didn’t say anything. I went and took a shower, feeling a bit irritated at myself for feeling so angry. But I also felt pretty ok that, had I been given the opportunity, I could have given him a pass.

As usual, this therapist, parent and spouse is going through life, doing the best I can.

Until next time…

One Response to Monkey out of water
  1. elizabeth
    September 9, 2016 | 8:56 am

    In the long run it would have given you temporary satisfaction and a release of your anger if you had given him “a good piece of your mind”……However, you might have felt guilty for losing it…..The guilt might have lingered longer than the anger.

    It sounds like you let the good feelings in by your plan to be more noble towards him…..

    A good example of reflective thinking creating calm which seems to have stayed with you……vs being a hot head……

    The guy sounds like a perfect jerk….but obviously had some guilt….

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